When you are an employee of a narcissist boss, being given the silent treatment is a terrifying thing. Stone walling, the cold shoulder, no matter what you call it, it is a form of narcissistic manipulation. Here is what you need to know when your boss is ignoring you.
Narcissistic bosses give you the silent treatment to manipulate you and assert control over your emotions. They try to do this while seeming “normal,” and may mix it up with love bombing, hot / cold flashes, or gaslighting. Overcome narcissistic stone walling by beating them at their own game.
Not sure how to beat a narcissistic boss? Let’s get in to the details.
Why a Narcissistic Boss Gives You the Silent Treatment
Narcissists are well known as people that have to make everything about themselves. So, be rest assured that your narcissistic boss given you the silent treatment is not a reflection of you are your work ability.
While narcissists seem outgoing, confident, and self-assured, in reality they have a deep emotional need for external validation and control of others. To feed this need, they resort to narcissistic manipulation tactics.
When narcissistic bosses give you the silent treatment, they are hoping you develop a need for their validation as well.
By withdrawing and cutting you off for no apparent reason, they are —
- Demonstrating their control of the situation
- Showing off, usually falsely, that they don’t need your validation
- Initiating a praise and abuse cycle, designed to keep you dependent on them
- Raising their social status compared to you
While some of this may seem strange to a normal person — after all, why would boss need to demonstrate higher social status compared to a worker? Yet, this is the way that the warped narcissistic mind works. No amount of logic will persuade them what they are doing doesn’t make sense or is wrong. They are working on the basis of their broken, wounded heart.
More about how narcissistic bosses actually work here —
Other Signs of Narcissism in a Boss
Narcissistic bosses never get better or reform. While almost all narcissist are good at putting on shows, and even looking genuinely recondite and apologetic for past behavior, this is all an image that they are cultivating.
Narcissist, and narcissistic bosses in particular, will switch between various tactics or social “roles” they play to get what they want — their “narcissistic supply” of good feelings and validation.
Some common narcissistic control tactics that your boss may employ include —
- Love bombing
- Strategic “forgetting”
- Making people “golden children”
- Turning everything around to be about them
- Taking credit for other people’ accomplishments
- Building and overly competitive or toxic work culture
- Hot & Cold Behavior
- Lying & Creating False Backstories
- Stonewalling aka the Silent Treatment
I have written much more about some of the dangerous tactics that narcissistic bosses use here —
- The Gaslighting Narcissistic Boss Employee’s Survival Guide
- Narcissist Boss Love Bombing | How to Spot It and Combat A Narcissist
The rest of this article describes how you can counter your narcissist boss’s silent treatment tactics specifically.
How to React when Your Boss Gives You the Silent Treatment
The most important thing to do when your boss gives you the silent treatment is to make sure they don’t get what want out of it.
I always say that you have to “train” your narcissist to act in a respectful and appropriate manner with you. Every narcissist boss is looking for one or more of the following —
- Emotional dependence
- Praise from you
- To make themselves look better
- Just to hurt someone or make drama
The best thing you can do when a narcissist boss shuns you is to give them no reaction. This takes the wind out of their sales, and ensures that they are not getting what they want from the situation.
This is often easier said than done. Here are some ideas to make it possible to be non-reactive to your bosses silent treatment abuse
- Avoid situations where your boss might be involved
- When you do speak with your boss, make it as public as possible, so it seems weird to onlookers that that he is ignoring you
- Only talk in group meetings
- Catch them in their office when someone else is there
- CC your emails to coworkers, supervisor, or other bosses as appropriate
- Take their silence as approval, stating it as such, and force them to correct you
- Act as if nothing strange is going on
- Be happy to see them when they come around, but in a way that never changes no matter how off putting or pleasant they are back to you
For more information on how to take control of your work situation and deal with a narcissist boss, I’ve written a more in depth article on manipulating your boss.
Having complete control of your emotions in the face of your boss gives you complete power over the situation.
Some methods for controlling your emotions that I share with clients include —
- Anti-narcissist focus & meditation training sessions
- Practicing in your mental theater
- Compassion training
- Doing a self-interview
- The “Everyday Buddha Journal Method”
I offer coaching services and additional resources and books that you will find helpful in overcoming a seriously toxic narcissist boss.
How do I stop the narcissist silent treatment?
Stop narcissistic silent treatments by not giving the narcissist what they want. Step one is to not react, positively or negatively, to their silence. Avoid iterations with them. If you must, do so publicly. Act normal, and make them look like the weird one for what they are doing. Take everything as nonchalantly or positively as possible.
What is narcissistic stonewalling?
Narcissistic stonewalling is a abuse tactic where a victim is psychological tortured by the narcissist withdrawing emotional input or even all communication. Blank faces that stifle our ability to read the emotions of people we need or trust is more damaging than direct abuse or condemnation. Narcissist often combine this with love bombing or hot & cold behavior.
Why do narcissists give silent treatment?
Narcissists give the silent treatment in order to control their victims by developing either a dependence on the narcissist’s approval, or demonstrating their control of the situation to others. The silent treatment is often combined with other forms of abuse such as love bombing, triangulation, and gaslighting.